Movies At Random – Analyze This

“You get a dictionary and find out what this “closure” is. If that’s what he’s going to hit us with, I want to know what it is.”

A mafia boss seeks help with a mental health professional, who helps the boss work through his issues. Sounds like a very successful HBO series, doesn’t it? It’s weird when we have two different projects that have a similar thematic element released so close. While The Sopranos debuted on HBO in January 1999, this movie wasn’t that far behind. And at the very least, Dr. Ben Sobel seemed a bit more competent at his profession than Dr. Melfi…

Analyze This (1999)

Robert DeNiro has done his share of comedies over the last two decades. While many consider his role in Meet the Parents and its sequels to be his best comedic work, I definitely lean towards this movie as some of his funniest stuff. Considering this is the movie that kicked off his run of comedies. That might be an intimidating challenge, working with director Harold Ramis and co-star Billy Crystal likely made the task a lot easier.

DeNiro’s stars as Paul Vitti a New York mafia boss who’s been experiencing anxiety attacks and strong-arms a psychiatrist – who rear-ended two of his men the night before – to take him on and make sure he’s in a good mental state before a big meeting of all the families. Meanwhile, someone is trying to kill Vitti and the government is doing what it can to get enough evidence to arrest him as well.

I’d have some anxiety over that, too.

Playing off Billy Crystal’s Dr. Sobel, DeNiro seems to be a natural at comedy, taking his usual mobster persona and ratcheting it up to a parody levels. When Sobel tells Vitti to channel his anger and “hit the pillow,” Vitti takes out his gun and shoots it. Crystal and DeNiro have amazing interplay and help carry the movie. But there are a lot of great character actors strewn throughout the cast.

Chazz Palminteri plays Primo Sidone, Paul Vitti’s chief rival for control of the New York families. Palminteri is hysterical as the brutish bad guy, again taking advantage of playing off Crystal to create memorably funny scenes. The confrontation between Sobel and Sidone during the meeting in the final act always brings a smile to my face.

Lisa Kudrow, who stars as Sobel’s fiancée Laura, is amazingly understated, considering she was at the height of her popularity as the kooky Phoebe on Friends.

The movie still holds up all these years later, I think, and it’s something I won’t pass up when it’s on TV.

That’s all for this edition. Be sure to vote in the poll for our next movie. The poll and a description of the options can be found RIGHT HERE.